Cacio e pepe, cheese and pepper – one of the simplest pasta sauces, this Roman classic can also be one of the trickiest to get just right. The idea is to emulsify the cheese with the starchy pasta cooking water to create a creamy sauce. A few things ensure success: quality ingredients, ratios, temperature and vigorous beating. Use authentic Pecorino Romano (sheep’s milk cheese from the region around Rome) if you can get it, otherwise Pecorino Sardo, plus good durum wheat pasta, good salt and freshly ground pepper. Cook the pasta in less water than usual (so the water is very starchy) with a little less salt, as the pecorino is very salty. Beat room-temperature cheese into the cooking water to form a paste in a large warmed bowl before adding the cooked pasta, don’t put it back into the hot cooking pan or the cheese may clump. Beat vigorously, until your arm hurts and then some more – the more you beat the creamier the sauce! The good news is, it tastes great even if it doesn’t look perfect, so give it a go! As the cheese and water blend together to make a great sauce, so Italian varietals pinot grigio and arneis blend with riesling and chardonnay in Dal Zotto’s Insieme (Italian for ‘together’) to make a delicious wine that’s perfect with this dish. Shave a little more of the pecorino over wild rocket for a simple side salad (see video below).
Serves 6 as a starter
Share page on: